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NBA, NBA awards, 2020-21 NBA awards

Bold picks for the 2020-21 NBA season awards

The 2020-21 NBA season is set to get started under very unique circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The start of a new season always brings new predictions for awards, and they often wind up looking very similar.

Here, we’re going to make some outside-the-box choices for the major NBA awards. While there’s a good chance these won’t be the winners, it wouldn’t be totally crazy.

MVP

Donovan Mitchell

Jazz, Donovan Mitchell

The Utah Jazz are coming off a disappointing first-round exit against the Denver Nuggets last season. The Jazz were up 3-1 in the series and looked to be in clear control. They could not close things out, however, and the Nuggets came back to win.

Throughout that series we saw a superstar emerge as a dominant and complete player. Donovan Mitchell was spectacular, averaging 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.9 rebounds in the seven-game series. Mitchell shot 52.9% from the field and 51.6% from deep.

Mitchell showed his ability to take over games on the biggest NBA stage. He can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor, he finishes above the rim, he’s getting better with his decision-making, and he’s an improving defender.

The All-Star guard is going to elevate himself into the MVP conversation by carrying over his impressive bubble play. He won’t be that good over a full season, but he’s going to have a monster year as the Jazz look to take a step forward in the rugged Western Conference.

Rookie of the Year

Saddiq Bey

These are supposed to be bold, so any pick in the top 10 shouldn’t be considered.

Saddiq Bey is in a good situation to thrive as a rookie and has a chance to have an offensive role early in his career. Bey is a high-IQ forward who shoots it really well from the outside and has excellent court awareness.

While there will be competition among veterans (Blake Griffin, Jerami Grant) and young players (Sekou Doumbouya, Josh Jackson) for minutes at the forward spots, one has to think the rebuilding Detroit Pistons will make sure he gets his chances. Bey could potentially also get minutes at shooting guard.

If Bey is given the opportunity to score the ball on the Pistons’ second unit, he could have himself an excellent rookie campaign. He was one of the most NBA-ready players in this draft, and he has the potential to win Rookie of the Year.

Defensive Player of the Year

Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo, Pacers

After missing most of last season, Victor Oladipo is forgotten about as one of the elite perimeter defenders in the NBA. Now, fully healthy heading into this season, he’s going to remind everyone why he won Most Improved Player in 2018 and made the All-Defensive First Team.

Oladipo led the league in steals in 2017-18, averaging 2.4 per game. His active hands and lateral quickness allow him to get into passing lanes and deflect passes. Oladipo’s size and athleticism also give him an advantage when matched up against smaller players.

With something to prove, Oladipo is going to regain All-Star status and make a major impact on both ends of the floor, but especially on defense.

Most Improved Player

Marvin Bagley III

Marvin Bagley III, Kings

The Sacramento Kings haven’t made the playoffs in 13 years, and that trend will likely continue this year. That is unless the Kings get a surprisingly large contribution from former second overall pick Marvin Bagley III.

Bagley is a long and athletic big who has struggled to stay healthy so far in the NBA. Bagley averaged 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds last season for the Kings, which is respectable, but he only played in 13 games.

Fully healthy, Bagley has the potential to be a game-changer. He has the offensive tools to be an integral part of this Kings offense next season. If he’s able to stay on the floor and crash the glass with a little more urgency, we could see a big year from Bagley and a surprise run for Sacramento.

Sixth Man of the Year

Norman Powell

Norman-Powell-Raptors

The Toronto Raptors had an interesting offseason. They were fortunate enough to re-sign Fred VanVleet and drafted an offensively gifted guard in Malachi Flynn, but lost two big pieces in their frontcourt in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Aron Baynes and Alex Len were brought in to replace the departed big men.

The Raptors will have to look to Norman Powell to pick up some of the slack off the bench, and he’s coming off a career season in 2019-20. He put up a career-high 16.0 points per game and shot nearly 40% on 3-pointers on over five attempts per game.

While VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and Kyle Lowry are still the main cogs in Toronto, Powell will look to take his game up even another level.

Coach of the Year

Steve Nash

Steve Nash, Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are one of the most anticipated teams to watch this season. With both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning from injury, the Nets fancy themselves as title contenders.

The Nets were criticized by some for hiring Steve Nash to be the team’s head coach because of his lack experience. Nash could very well come out and shock the world by managing the big egos on the Nets and get the team to buy into his game plan.

Nash is one of the smartest basketball players in NBA history with an elite understanding of the game. If the Nets come out and achieve a top seed in the Eastern Conference, Nash could very well win Coach of the Year.

Conclusion

With the NBA season tipping off on Tuesday, now is the time to make bold takes.

Will any of these predictions actually come to fruition? It’s a reach, but this NBA season is a big question mark and anything is possible.